A Word In Your Ear - July 23, 2015

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“That’s what I noticed when coming over here years ago,” neighbour Richard recalled, “the beautiful trees of England.”

The middle-aged Irishman must have liked it, as he’s still here.

We were in our local at Great Marton, where I was recounting a Sunday outing.

The afternoon had been spent around Warton Hall, near Freckleton. Its gardens were opened for a rare weekend of outdoor art – and chance for She Who Knows to see how the other half lived.

“What amazed some visitors most,” I said, “was a massive tree pre-dating the hall. It was perhaps 100ft high and as wide again.”

“An oak, I suppose,” volunteered Richard.

“No, amazingly it was a hornbeam – rare up here and that size. One tree lover had come miles to see it.”

But Richard was right about islands generally. Trees were usually scarce and the landscape more windswept. Sadly, on the Fylde, many of those prominent trees have been downed by Irish Sea gales – or health and safety fears. By contrast, during my years here, saplings sheltering behind Edmonds Towers have now far outgrown us.

These vital giants of nature are a yardstick of time, as well as a humbling reminder of our mortality – which we do well to appreciate.

At Warton, the hornbeam was thought to be more than four centuries old. It reminded me of a massive copper beech close to where I was raised in Urmston, Manchester.

This stood by Flixton Hall and was still dominating the gardens and nearby rose maze when I last returned.

That hall was where my parents first got together at a dance, courting in the shadow of that very tree. They even grew two copper beeches at the gates of our first family house.

No wonder we speak of ‘family trees’, or the ‘tree of life’.

“We should cherish them,” concluded the genial Richard.

* For Roy’s books, visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.com.